Money, Autonomy & Happiness

Published 2011. Contact: Ron Fischer.


The well-being of nations has become a major concern for economists, policy makers, and social scientists alike. Much research has been devoted to predictors of well-being, happiness, and life satisfaction of citizens of countries around the world.


Our findings offers an important avenue for further research. We investigated factors predicating national differences in well-being, using multiple indicators for each construct at hand. The question was whether it is more important to provide individuals with money or with autonomy.

The results suggest that providing individuals with autonomy has overall a larger and more consistent effect on well-being than money does. Money leads to autonomy (Welzel et al., 2003; Welzel & Inglehart, 2010), but it does not add to well-being or happiness.

This research has received extensive global media coverage. Read more here: Money Can't Buy Happiness: Individualism a Stronger Predictor of Well-Being Than Wealth, Says New Study.

You can access the research "What is more important for national well-being: Money or autonomy? A meta-analysis of well-being, burnout, and anxiety across 63 societies." here.